America, NOT politics

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The world, man, technology and life are all ever-changing, evolving and progressing, reaching new plateaus and pinnacles. As humans we are always rethinking our futures and hopefully considering the consequences of our actions today for the future generations. We do not overcome great obstacles, enemies and challenges with nay-saying and negative mindsets, clinging to the same old tried and failed ideologies, pointing fingers and blaming everything and everyone for our stumbling. We achieve greatness through unifying and rallying around great ideals, positive spirits and new invention and ingenuity. If Henry Ford had not embraced change, we’d all be driving Model A’s. I firmly believe the mindset and either positive or negative mental attitude of a nation determines the very future we attract. Whine, cry, belly-ache and moan, cling to how we did things 50 years ago and we will get a future that mirrors those attitudes. Attack the future with a positive and thankful attitude and can-do nature, joyful that we are free and able to change those things that are exposed as “bad”, but always seeking the higher road and greater good, and we will attract a future that is covered with blessings and prosperity.

The division of a nation is the very thing that will surely destroy it. Many speak of a nation destroyed from within, and most citizens seem to think that is referring to the political structure that leads us, but they are only 545 men and women. THEY can only do what WE empower them to do. The real destructive forces from within are each and every citizen. How we treat one another, how we think, act and feel; those are the real powers in America. The problem is, most of us tend to fall into the habit of belly-aching and blaming whoever in that group of 545 we trust tells us is at fault, so we take that as gospel and we allow those 545 to drive a wedge between the 300 + million of us, like smoke and mirrors, and we stand arguing with those friends and family members about who is at fault and what ideologies have failed us the most, when in reality, the problem is us. There is no difference between the parties except for the superficial platforms they put out there to get votes. One side plays up to our religious fervor and the other side to our duty to help our fellow man up on his feet and equality for all, but the reality is the big money leadership of each party is not concerned about the rights of all, the poor or how many women have abortions. Those are superficial party platforms that distract our attention away from how the wealthy are gaining more power and wealth and and ultimately taking control of our ability to self-government.

Unfortunately, too many of us put more faith in a political party than we do in our nation, our people and our God. We tend to mock one another because one does not buy into the platform of the other, and we cut deeper and deeper at the seams and threads that hold this nation together. Truth seems to be the last thing we care about when debating one another and lies appear to be the best we have to offer one another in rebuttal. Sadly, our children watch this and their hopes are dashed because we are such a filthy source of negative emotions, setting the poorest examples for children than any other generation in our American History, all in the name of two failed political ideologies. It is high time we put away childish things and destructive behaviors in this nation and again rally positive creation and ingenuity. It is high time we stop the foolishness and segregated propaganda and set examples for our children that our parents and grandparents set for us. My Grandparents were born in an age when the way government was run did not work out well. If it failed in the 20’s  it will fail now. They were raised during the depression when our nation became one that operated in survival mode after the great big corporate run government failure. My Grandparents fought during WWII and dug deep to create a way when one seemed impossible. They started families in the 40’s and this nation morphed and changed and evolved, and though some styles semi-repeated themselves, they never reverted back to tried and failed systems, but continued to forge ahead, always looking to do things for the good of our nation without harming the rest of our brothers around the world.

Today, we have to think in ways that do not harm our own fellow citizens. We have to insure ALL of our people have every opportunity that our nation fought for since it was settled, without harming our world neighbors, but surely not putting their people ahead of our own. Charity starts at home. We have people in this nation that put men on the moon, that defeated world enemies, that saved nations from dictators and murderers. We need to protect our people now; our rights, our freedoms, our jobs, our futures, our children and their futures, our land and air and water. We have to do things responsibly and ethically and hold everyone accountable and to the standards that no one makes it to the top in this nation by using others as a rung. If you are a part of this great nation and you want to work hard and provide a life for your family, you should have every opportunity to do so. If you make it to the top it is in no small part because of the system that this nation has put in place and you owe a debt to the nation. Like it or not, somehow every man, woman and child contributed to your success and you did not do it on your own. It is but because of the people of this nation that you even had the opportunity to win, and success does not come without great responsibility and debt to that system. Success does not make you an island, or a king, or a cartel member. It makes you a recipient of a blessing that was bestowed upon you through a God and a government system that our forefathers instituted 236 years ago that required sacrifice by all and responsibility by all. Freedom with responsibility allows us the opportunity to succeed, but it does not mean you have license to live in greed.

United we stand, divided we fall is a phrase first associated with Aesop, then with Patrick Henry’s 1799 speech and even David Gilmour of Pink Floyd penned a similar lyric in “Hey you”, but it holds truer today than ever. Perhaps 30% of the people ridiculing and blaming another 30% of the nation for having poor ideologies, really equates to 60% of our nation being dead wrong, stubborn, and the biggest part of our nation’s problem. When we can move off of our ivory towers and high horses and begin to understand that both sides contribute to the success and the failures in this nation and that we all need to move more towards working with one another in the center in order to move forward, then we can get somewhere. Right now, we have one force pulling the cart left, one force pulling it right and we only stress the cart pulling it apart and never get anywhere. That is not right for any nation, family, business or entity. It is unreasonable, ignorant and insane. The current system allows the cart to veer left for a while, establishing a set of domestic and foreign policies that set a precedent for a time, then the balance of power sways and all of those policies get reversed as the cart veers off to the right. Our people cannot plan futures, our businesses cannot plan futures, and the rest of the world powers look at us as if we are a bi-polar group of idiots, never putting any stock in us and always gambling for our demise. Until the asses teemed to the cart come around to one side and start pulling together, we are doomed, but the coming together starts in each and every home in America and in each and every heart. If we want change, WE have to change first. We have to be the moral benchmark for our leaders and hold them to a higher standard. We have to demand that those 545 come together and compromise and stop sitting on their laurels doing nothing except pointing fingers and blaming the other side. They have to get things done, and until we as individuals change our approach and mindset and tell them they need to get off of their high horses and earn their keep by working together to get things done, they will continue to feed us the smoke and mirrors and our nation will flounder and take on more and more water. Want to change America? Change you and your attitude and demand it from everyone else, especially those guys that cost us billions each year. Image

Aging in Place, Universal Design and Retrofitting existing residences

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We know that by 2050, the population of Americans aged 65 or older will be 40 million—more than double what it is now. Americans aged 85 years or older will number 19 million—triple what it is now. But what are we doing to prepare for this aging society? What is being done right now to allow seniors independent living in their own homes? This is not a big issue for most builders and most home buyers and it is setting us up for some real problems in the very near future.

Even if we are not concerned about our own senior independence, many of us fail to realize that our parents are aging and there will come a time when someone (perhaps us) will either have to provide care for them in their homes or ours. My mother and father just went through 4 years of this with my grandparents. At first it was simply having my grandparents stay with them to keep them company and help my grandmother care for my grandfather. Then grandfather became increasingly feeble, grandmother passed on and for 2 1/2 years my grandfather was bed fast, on a feeding tube, with no bowel control or ability to help himself. My mom, a senior herself, could not bear the thought of putting him in a home so she provided all of the primary care that he had with a home nurse that came in periodically for healthcare.

In her home, she had a hospital bed with air mattress, a Hoya Lift, geri-chair and a variety of useful medical and home health-care devices to assist her in caring for him, but with small bathrooms, bedrooms, narrow halls and no design in the original construction to allow the home to be easily adaptable to her needs, she struggled with caring for him and it could have been easier on her health and well-being had we planned on this earlier.

We all need to be aware of the basic physical realities that an aging population implies. Right now, there’s a mismatch between the physical capabilities of people as they age and some of the built environment that we’ve created. Entrances with stairways, cabinets that are high, bathroom fixtures at the wrong height, number of stairs within the house. We have to think hard about retrofitting existing housing—there’s going to be a lively industry of retrofitting and renovation. As new homes are built, they need to be with the elderly in mind. That’s different from the approach we’ve used in the past. Imagine communities exclusively for aging, with houses designed for us in our youth, our prime and for aging persons. Housing will have to be built for the general populace, with the assumption that they’re going to live in those places for a long time. The housing will have to be smaller-scale, one-story, and accessorized in a thoughtful way. It will have to be walkable—closer in to amenities like grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and village centers.

The biggest barrier to aging in place today is financial. People are really worried about being able to stay in the house because they haven’t paid it off or can’t pay the taxes, so affordable design and construction is a must. Beyond that we have to think about the physical dimensions of this. This kind of design doesn’t have to be thought of as an impediment; done correctly, it can be an asset. We can actually help older people stay healthy longer and live independently longer if they don’t fall, if they can wake up at night and get around the house easily. We need to see this in terms of the positive environment we can create. It’s true that more square footage may be involved in one-story building, but the overall scale is going to be smaller. If we’re building age-appropriate housing, we don’t need as much space. We need very creative designs of bedrooms so there’s not only separate space and privacy, but also common space.

If you are building a new home, make sure you incorporate some of the very basic elements off accessibility into the design. Things like level driveways and entry sidewalks, level or slightly ramped entry points, 42″ wide hallways, 36″ interior passage doors, 42″ doorways, at least one bathroom with a 5′ X 5′ clear floor area, elevated and elongated toilet, a zero entry, roll-in shower, a walk-in tub, Blocking in the walls for the strategic installation of grab bars in the future, lever style faucet handles and door hardware, U-shaped cabinet pulls, rocker style switches, single-level homes, but if you have stairs include hand rails on both sides. Other items of consideration include:

  • Raised front-loading clothes washers, dryers, and dishwashers
  • Side-by-side refrigerators
  • Easy-access kitchen storage (adjustable-height cupboards and lazy Susans)
  • Non-slip floors, bathtubs, and showers
  • Multi-level kitchen countertops with open space underneath, so the cook can work while seated
  • Windows that require minimal effort to open and close
  • A covered entryway to protect you and your visitors from rain and snow
  • Task lighting directed to specific surfaces or areas

Make your house a home for life. Contact us to see if we can assist you in building your new home or adapting your existing one, today!

Contractor’s Tricks that Cost Owners Big.

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Ever wonder how some “Bad” contractors manage to stay in business? It amazes me how they stay one step ahead of their poor reputations and bad intentions. Many have survived by providing low-ball bids in order to get the jobs, and once they are contracted, they substitute specified material for substandard materials, they use substandard subcontractors, they stall over small technicalities in the plans and specifications and demand change orders that are not warranted and they try to wear the client’s resistance down so the owners accept certain deficiencies and increases in price just to get the job completed and to avoid litigation. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? These contractors do not have bold tattoos on their foreheads to alert you, but they have reputations that others whisper about in their communities. You probably won’t hear about the bad things until you are a victim, then the witnesses come out of the wood-work.

I have personally witnessed contractors intentionally omit items from their scope of work, knowing full well that they have certain additional work to complete to make the project whole, knowing that will be a point of argument later during construction. The worst is when a contractor is engaged in a design/build project and writes a scope of work contrary to the design documents and knowingly excludes items that have been listed as requirements by the client, the architect, the franchise agent or building codes and best practices. I have seen contractors literally bankrupt legitimate subcontractors that were honest and ethical trades. They use subcontractors that do not have the wherewithal to defend themselves in court if the prime contractor breaches or refuses to pay them in full after the work has been substantially completed. Usually when they notify the subcontractor of unknown deficiencies, the subcontractor’s lien rights are negated because they have passed their deadlines for filing timely notices to owners/notices to contractors. Then they start fraudulently issuing back-dated back charges and stripping away at the contract value to the sub until sometimes, the sub owes them money.

Architects and engineers do not like working with these sort of contractors because they try to short cut everything. They bury debris in fill material under structures and parking lots and retention ponds to save money on disposal of land clearing material and the costs of imported fill. They try to use smaller diameter reinforcing steel or less than is called for in the engineered plans. Some have been known to remove steel from work-in-place after inspections, but prior to pouring foundations or pumping walls and beams. They try to skimp on the thickness of concrete footings and slabs. If they can decrease the thickness of a 4″ floor slab on a 15,000 square foot building, they save 25% of the material cost for that slab (Roughly 50 cubic yards = $5,500.00). They will save a dollar by cheating the project everywhere they can. Instead of 12″ compacted subgrade, they will do 10″. Instead of 6″ compacted base rock, they will do 5″. Instead of 1 1/2″ of S1 asphalt in 2 lifts of 3/4″ each, they will do 1 1/4″ in one lift. They use a lighter gauge metal studs than what is called for, short cut on insulation, roofing quality, windows and door quality, likewise on stucco and drywall finishes. I have seen contractors install ADS Plastic pipe in lieu of Reinforced Concrete Pipe. I have seen some over excavate the bottoms of wet retention ponds after the surveyors did grade shots for as-builts to develop more fill, and sometimes even export the additional material to use on other projects or to sale to other sites. Many boast that they self-perform most of the work, which means they use less than skilled, $12 per hour labor, that are jack-of-all-trades and masters of none, and their quality is so bad that it is embarrassing.

These contractors go into a project near zero profit or at a loss and by the time they cheat the clients, the subcontractors and building inspectors, they make out like bandits. Quality and change orders are just the tip of the iceberg. Many contractors front end load or disproportionately load their schedule of values so they pull out more money in the front end of the project than is customary. This insures they get their profits if a client catches on or has the brawn to stand up to them. At this point, it is in the contractor’s best interest to have the client terminate his contract, but the bad part is there will likely never be enough funding left to complete the project after bringing in another contractor, so lending goes stale, the project sits idle and the client is paying every day. Normally in the midst of these circumstances, the claims of lien begin getting served and now the client realizes that not only do they need more money from the bank or investors to complete the remaining work, but now they must pay double for work that was never paid for by the contractor.

It is a vicious cycle. It is ugly and wrong and casts shadows on the industry professionals that do not just use words like honesty, integrity and quality in their marketing material, but actually run their lives and businesses on sound principles of providing a great product and service for a nominal profit.

Often times contractors will offer to build a project at cost plus. The issue is they never give you an idea of what the costs are, and rest assured, unless the contractor is intelligent enough to provide you with detailed estimates and subcontractor bids, he is going to let that budget run amok. Granted, the entity that controls the wish list and finishes and expenditures is the client, and if there is a detailed scope of work with quantities of materials and square footages and lineal footages and a sophisticated budget attached to that scope, anything over and above that is going to cost more and anything less will cost less. This is the responsibility of the owner. The responsibility of the known construction costs is the contractor’s job, but if he is a “bad” contractor, he will shirk that responsibility. These are issues that every owner must contend with on every project; whether it is a commercial, industrial or residential project, the same applies.

We have created a system over the last two decades that eliminates the worries of this type of fiasco. “Client Controlled Construction Concepts” is the most professional, fair and effective method of contracting for the client that is available today. It is 100% transparent, fully disclosed up front, and insures that all of the costs are included, with qualified subcontractors that are competing for your work, to provide you with consistent quality and professional scheduling. You know every subcontractor, materialman and equipment supplier is paid, because you write each check to each one. You are contracted with each vendor. Our team orchestrates the entire project for you, provides you with three subcontractor bids on each scope of work, provides you with two material and equipment bids for each scope as applicable, and you have the final say on the selection of subcontractors and vendors. We professionally schedule, supervise and manage the construction of your project with professional systems known to be the best practices in the industry. The project will meet with the expected levels of quality in the field and professionalism that is second to none on the management end. Weekly progress update meetings alert you to the work scheduled for the next two weeks, material delivery dates, inspections and results, testing and test results. We receive the invoices and payment applications from vendors, review for accuracy with work-in-place, record in sophisticated tracking reports to show percentages of each class of work completed, amounts paid to date and percentages to completion. We track the lien releases and notices to owner, and track and secure all partial lien releases to deliver to you on a monthly basis with easy to understand reports that show you where you are on the financial aspects of the project and where you are on the actual construction work-in-place. We anticipate potential cost savings and value engineering opportunities and provide that data to you for your capital forecasting that allows you to make decisions on additional discretionary purchases or perks you would like to include. We allow you to take the helm and partner with us in our business as we partner with you in yours. All of this data is submitted to you on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on what is applicable. You won’t find a better system for you or a better company to work with. We guarantee it.

We eliminate the adversarial relationships by partnering with you on your project. This allows us to be more involved in your success and allows us both to focus more on the success of the project and not the issues of nit picking and bickering. Most of the general requirements portion of the job is never subjected to markup utilizing our system, as you pay the costs of our supervision and project management that is clearly disclosed in the upfront-budgets, plus a small percentage of the monthly pay applications for profit.

Our system financially will save you 5% to 15% on construction costs, but it will save you time and headaches that can amount to more value than that. On a million dollar project, the savings ranges between $50,000 to $150,000, which is substantial, especially when you also get superior product and service. And, if you are a national company with regional expansion plans, repeating this process will go directly to your bottom line as the savings add up, and the relationship we build is one of mutual trust and respect that you can always count on for consistent results. Contact us today so you can begin to see the benefits of “Client Controlled Construction Concepts” and partnering with Monarchy Corporate Construction Group.

Client Controlled Construction Concepts

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National and regional companies with plans of expanding and growing their businesses must invest a considerable amount of time, money and manpower in making those expansion plans a reality and more importantly a successful reality. With the stability questions involving our national economy, many companies are being more cautious and cost-conscious, operating with leaner budgets and we have created a way to provide exceptional value and cost savings without sacrificing quality. Our Client Controlled Construction Concepts allows the ultimate in transparency, provides for direct payments to all vendors and subcontractors while paying our company our billable hours for supervision and project management, temp facilities, equipment and a small profit on each pay application. The percentage is based upon job size. This system virtually allows the client to manage their own construction company without all of the formalities. In the end, the client has the peace of mind knowing the project was built to their rigorous standards, that no liens will exist and that they saved a considerable amount of money.

Client Controlled Construction Concepts is an innovative Construction Delivery System that allows you, The Client, tremendous control over the administrative and financial aspects of your building project through greater involvement in the inner-workings of the our business. It is as if you have a short term ownership in our company, providing you absolute transparency where you see all costs. It provides you with unprecedented cost savings, especially when you partner with us on multiple projects and provides you with peace of mind that the project has ample budgets to complete the work, that all suppliers and subcontractors are qualified to perform and properly paid so no lien threats exist and it provides for faster, smoother and more quality projects.

 

If you are a developer, corporation with expansion plans or a franchisee that needs all the savings you can get, our system may be the ingredient to get your project out of the ground and through to a successful completion.